09/03/09 — OPINION - Only one matchup matters

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OPINION - Only one matchup matters

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on September 3, 2009 1:46 PM

There will be over 1,460 Division 1A college football games played this season and yet the one I truly want to see isn't on the schedule -- not yet anyway.

I'll enjoy the excitement of a new season as it gets underway this weekend, watch conference championship races take shape in October and November and once again be begging for a playoff system by December.

All along, I'll be pining for one matchup and one matchup only with nothing short of a national championship at stake.

College football fans young and old deserve to see the showdown we were denied a year ago when Texas was sent to the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State while Oklahoma was rewarded with the task of facing Florida for the national title.

The thought of seeing the Longhorns' and Gators on the same field battling for college football's holy grail brings back the type of boyhood excitement that led to many sleepless Christmas Eves as a kid.

Ranked No. 1 in every preseason poll, Florida returns 18 starters including college football poster boy Tim Tebow. Menacing middle linebacker and North Carolina native Brandon Spikes is one of 11 Gators back on defense.

Tebow has thrown 30 or more touchdown passes in each of the past two seasons and has a legitimate shot at taking home a second Heisman Trophy.

Not seeing Tebow, one of the most prolific college football players in recent memory, playing for a potential third national championship in his final season seems almost unimaginable. Two tailbacks who rushed for over 600 yards last year, a pair of senior wide receivers and an offensive line that averages 318 pounds per player will all aid Tebow's cause offensively.

Spikes returns to lead a defense that allowed less than 13 points a game in 2008 and faced six ranked opponents, including a pair of No. 1's. Seeing Gators head coach Urban Meyer unleash the hounds on Texas quarterback Colt McCoy is must-see TV in itself.

McCoy is one of 16 starters back for No.2 Texas and the Longhorns' signal caller is 32-7 in 39 career starts. The son of a high school football coach, McCoy is 3-0 in bowl games, 2-1 against rival Oklahoma and holds 42 schools records.

Three of Texas' four returning rushers, including McCoy, return along with Jordan Shipley, who racked up over 1,000 yards receiving and hauled in 11 touchdown passes in 2008. An offensive line with 91 career starts should anchor a unit that put up 42 points a game a year ago.

A trio of linebackers and six defensive backs are back to a Texas defense that surrendered 14 points or less in seven games last season.

Bowl season is always an entertaining end to the holidays. Let's just hope Santa leaves Florida versus Texas under college football's Christmas tree.